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Everything posted by PrinceBlueblood

  1. Even all these years later, with as much water that had passed under the great past-spanning bridge of time, there was some small part of Bluebelle's soul that would shake at the sudden sound of Rarity's voice. It was ridiculous, of course, to hold such reactions from an evening so long ago, especially when the other mare was so unaffected as to be laughing about it in a doughnut shop mere hours later. Still, the fear was not unmixed with gratitude; after all, Rarity's rebuke had sent Prince Blueblood on the long, roundabout journey that ultimately led him here, as a mare, the head of this school. *I will never understand the great mysteries of life.* Shock, awe, and nostalgia aside, the Princess' outer visage was awash in nothing but sympathy. She knew full well how it felt to be poked in her sensitive hoofsies. "Oh dear. Are they that bad at sewing? Or is it that they just don't sew well... together?" Vague memories of elderly female relatives no longer being on speaking terms with mares that used to be sisters of the spool and needle danced through her mind. "Oh, and I am settling in... well enough, I suppose. As I was just saying to Applejack, I'm just running on written instructions left by my predecessor until I acquire some sea-legs." She smiled at the other white unicorn, gesturing for her to take a seat beside her. Mention of new measurements from the fashionista prompted a quick self-conscious glace by the Princess over the curve of her flank and posterior. "Oh, do you think they've changed that much since we last met? I'd been trying to watch my weight, but I do have a tendency towards curves in this form..."
  2. Blueblood clambered back up to ride on Niilavin again, the Prince not inclined to walk all the way there if he could absolutely help it. Not just from laziness, though; seeing the sphinx being ridden would reassure the public that he was under control. And the public, it would seem, was very much in need of reassuring. "[Nonetheless, consider yourself forbidden from engaging in any games that will result in the death of my subjects. I may in the future permit you to frighten them, if I find it useful or amusing, however.]" There were quite a few stuffed shirts that Blueblood wouldn't mind getting an up close and personal look at Niil's jaws, just to put them back on the straight and narrow. Or at least liven up an interminable soiree. As the quad made their way to the fish markets, the Prince kept in political conversation, somewhat, with Anu. "I still think it fairly naive of you, not to seek out fighting friends if you anticipated conflict over your rule. And if you didn't see it coming... well, that doesn't speak well to your perceptions. Knowledge for next time, I suppose." Honestly, if Hogo-sha hadn't already pledged support, Blueblood might not have been willing to give any more than a good-luck wish and some mercenary contact information. It was a sad story, but was it really worth spending blood and treasure to resolve a tribal dispute? The Fish Market of Canterlot was a testimony to what enough gold given to the right ponies could accomplish. It sat equidistant from the train station and the airship port, where icebox cars and rush airfreight deposited fresh fish for the perusal of the Canterlotian public. Blueblood suspected the whole venture had been made economically possible by crazy cat ladies who wanted to spoil their menagerie, but the establishment was kept up by the griffon minority, as well as the embassies from more obviously omnivorous populations. Not that the Prince didnt' mind a good tilapia now and then, and recent travels had given him a taste for sushi, as well. "They'll give me a tab, Niil. Just point out what you want and I'll sign for it."
  3. Bluebelle sighed. She couldn't help but think Applejack's view overly optimistic, as far as joining a league went. "The main point is, we're not actually obligated to trot into anything we do not choose to. Resisting such negative, semi-coercive pressures is one of the things we teach here, is it not? If it is indeed not taught, I shall have to add it to the curriculum." Pausing in her meal, she whipped out a notepad with her magic to jot down a reminder. "Large sports leagues are as subject to the dynamics of money and power as anything else typically found amidst the elite, and I've seen better mares than myself proven wrong when they think they won't be corrupted. Making our voice heard really isn't going to do much if we're not in control, and we won't be. At that point, we're either dragged along, or we have to bail, which would make the whole venture a mistake either way. "No, I'm making the executive decision now." Bluebelle thumped her hoof on the table decisively. "We will keep sports at an intramural level at this school; this will allow us to give the students opportunities to manage as well as play, if they so desire, without having to worry about them being eaten alive by some exec from outside the school. This will also allow us to dedicate resources towards more obscure games, as long as interest can be maintained in them. Or perhaps the students could invent new ones; somepony was the first to make up the rules to buckball and hoofball, after all." She nodded, satisfied with her reasoning, and returned to lunch. "After all, if a student is primarily interested in a sport, there are other schools they can go to. That's not what we're here for."
  4. Tempest's response to their encouraging words left Feng... shaken. Not so much the revelation of what she had gone through, though that was harrowing enough. No, what really got to him was their marked similarities, so much so that Feng and Tempest could have been the "before" and "after" pair of a warning PSA. "You're right... I don't know what that's like. But if I had to give an honest answer to where I saw myself in five years... That would be a real possibility. Everyone who knew me growing up certainly expected that. Probably still do." He didn't know what else to say, besides that. The longma didn't want to let Tempest go, but sensed, similar to Sunset, that a crowd would not help the situation any. All he felt that he could do was sit next to Hanabi, and sigh as the adrenaline energy drained from him.
  5. As Bellosh stated above, I'll be attending with Shining Armor
  6. "A daycare program?" Bluebelle rubbed her chin, giving it a few seconds thought. It was a good idea, and just the sort of thing she was likely to overlook as she settled into her work. "Well, I'll put that on the docket. Thank you, Miss Applejack. I wonder... perhaps it would be good to allow students a chance to volunteer at such a place, once established at the academy? After all, there are few more perfect ways of putting our lessons into practice than dealing with the very young, giving them a friendly and nurturing environment." She only hoped it wouldn't seem exploitative, using students for labor like that. Best to make sure they got credits for it; she didn't want to get into trouble with the EEA on her first year! Twilight had given her quite a horror story... Speaking of the EEA, the orange earth pony brought up the idea floating around of a sporting organization. "You mean, an official league, and all that? Hm, it's not a bad idea, but I'm a little worried about what it might grow into. The virtue of competition is that it can bring out the best in ponies, but it also constantly demands it. Look at the Iron Pony, for instance. It began merely as a friendly event in a farming town, where anypony from the surrounding countryside could throw themselves into and have a decent chance of coming out on top. And now its an international event, where the top prizes become increasingly restricted to a few physical elite, who have dedicated no small portion of their lives to some activity related to the event. It makes, certainly, for a more exciting show... but I can't help but notice that so many more watch than participate. It can almost be discouraging, to see peaks of physical perfection out on the field that one can't hope to achieve. I'd much rather preserve an amateur atmosphere in our school sports clubs, where one plays for the love of playing the game, and not of making a ticket-selling spectacle."
  7. Feng breathed out a sigh of relief as his instinct was proved sound. He could sometimes let his passion get away from him, but the rigors of discipline and training were like iron bands in his soul. Reliable, as long as one didn't let them rust. And no one could accuse Feng of letting himself rust... Once the rage was fully drained from Tempest's visage, Feng relaxed his hold and slid off the mare, allowing her to stand on her own. Dusting himself off, he gave a reassuring smile to Hanabi as Sunset gave her own perspective on the issue of magic-less-ness. That... wow, that must have been like being grounded. Injuries had made Feng familiar enough with that, but he wasn't quite sure if the parallel really worked. Sure, he'd been unable to fly, but he'd also been safe in an infirmary, rather than in combat. Except on one occasion, in the mountains... "I'm not... sure the worst part is losing access to magic as it is losing access to magic when you're in danger. Or wings, in my case. It's happened before, but what got me through is that I wasn't the only one who was on the mission at the time. It's why solo missions tend to be discouraged... and why I get yelled at every time I go and take one on anyway." He gave a sheepish grin at that. Experience had not quite educated him out of certain gung-ho habits. "But you weren't solo, remember? You don't ever have to be again, if you don't want to. It's not being powerless that kills you, it's being alone." And even during this speech, his thoughts were drifting back home, to a beautiful qilin mare he'd once said the very same thing to...
  8. Oohhhh.... Immortality Angst. Yeah, that wasn't something that Bluebelle would be able to help with much. Heck, only the two Royal Sisters would; Cadence, if immortal, had no experience with the long haul, as it were. "Well, if it's any comfort to her, she won't be completely alone. She's not the only alicorn, and Auntie Celestia and Auntie Luna have both been through that. Like I said before, it will be hard at first, but they're living proof that one can come out the other side alright." It was a consideration, though, that gave her pause. Bluebelle had always suffered from alicorn envy, as the one non-alicorn royal in Canterlot. Twilight and Cadence's respective ascensions had not helped that in least. But would she want to take on this burden, if offered? Food for thought, which she took alongside food for her stomach. She smiled, seeing Applejack gush over her little one. It seemed that so many mares she knew were having foals. Their affection was infectious, dangerously so, inspiring thoughts of gravid months and caretaking years. *Whoa, as she would say, nelly. Let us prove that we can act as guardian for students before birthing one of our own.* The mare mind was treacherous, perhaps she should seek out a cup of coffee... Shaking off these reflections, she took in a scoop of almond chunks, chewing over Applejack's question. "Well... I'm always partial to setting up a sailing club, but that's just my personal bias towards my own hobby. My hope is that students will take initiative in forming their own clubs, and I will facilitate them. It seems altogether more efficient that trying to come up with a list of things they may or may not be interested in. Plus, it will teach them the benefits of taking initiative. The World is not going to provide hoofouts for them, after all."
  9. All throughout the Empress' speech, Fēng Yīnhǎitāo had remained bowed, facing towards the floor. In such a moment, to gaze at her would only increase the tension placed upon her, and he'd placed quite enough for one day. Not that he was free of stress himself; having uttered his request, he could only await the consequences. The only productive thing he could do while he awaited her judgment was to keep his breathing under control. *In... out... in... out...* The task grew harder for Fēng as the Empress continued, and trepidation gave way slowly to hope. Could she... was she really going to...? *Did you ever have any doubt?* When she reached out with her hoof, Fēng took it up gently, meeting her eyes with a smile. "Thank you... Yu Yue." And oh boy, if the Court was shocked at Yu's attitude towards Fēng, what could one say they were at a Watcher daring to call the Empress by name? While seemingly reckless, the longma had his reasons for answering in this way. First and foremost, it would simply not have been appropriate to answer a confirmation of true friendship in any stuffily official manner. Secondly, and not too far behind, it ensured that any ire the court would retain after this incident passed into the record would fall upon him, rather than her. The Empress could, in her sovereignty and displayed wisdom, be forgiven for reaching down. But for the lowly to reach up? That always roused more objection. Was it not the duty of the Watcher to protect the Empress from all threats? Even as a friend, Fēng Yīnhǎitāo would not forget his duties. Of this, Empress Yue could be assured.
  10. It wasn't that Feng was totally oblivious to social cues. When alert, the Watcher could pick up on many delicate nuances of interpony relations. As of 15 seconds ago, said alertness had been suspended from the sheer joy of meeting an old friend, and finding out they were alright. Which, in turn, blinded him from realizing that his new friend was not alright. Very far from alright, as a matter of fact. "No!" Feng shouted out, partly in answer to Hanabi's question, and partly in answer to the situation in general. With the lightning-fast reflexes of the Empress' elite, he sprang to intercept Tempest before she reached Sunset, her single-minded pursuit of the unicorn giving him an opening to apply a submission hold. He took care not to try and hurt her, and knew that he would have to calm her down soon. "It's alright! Situation contained. Stand down!" Breathing heavily, still attempting to keep a hold of her, he stroked the back of her neck with his wing in an attempt at a comforting gesture. "Nothing's hostile. Relax..."
  11. Bluebelle was too polite to mention her rather dim view on that level of exertion. As much as had changed about her, the somewhat prissy demeanor towards personally covering oneself in dirt and sweat had remained. Not that she wouldn't for a friend in need, but she wouldn't enjoy it in the least! "I suppose you wouldn't be you if you didn't. And what a tragedy that would be." She opted for the diplomatic reply, taking a few more bites of salad. She raised a brow at Twilight's mentioned concern, though she couldn't venture a guess as to what it was that troubled her fellow Princess. Knowing Twilight, it could be... anything, really. She was one of Equestria's born worriers, that one. Bluebelle supposed that level of conscientiousness made for a good ruler, though the long term effects of such stressing out hardly boded well. "Absolutely... eventually. I imagine there will be a period of adjustment as she gets used to it. Things may not be so good for a year or so, and she'll need her friends and support more than ever as she finds her sea legs and charts her own course. Above all... patience, from the rest of us. Twilight will make an excellent monarch, given all that." One had to be realistic; expressing full confidence sometimes had the unwanted side effect of arousing unfulfilled expectations, which was the last thing poor Twilight Sparkle needed burdening her right now. "Thank you for the offer, but I promised my cooking lessons to another. Dunnie, my guard and chef... lover, too. One keeps culinary traditions in the family, you know." She smiled softly, bringing the pegasus to mind. "I'm feeling ready to start one, myself. This position means less traveling overall, which clears up my schedule enough so that I could do a new foal justice as a parent." Talk of family moved from descendants to antecedents, which had the effect of somewhat draining Bluebelle's smile. "Oh, Father? It is... hard to say. There is not so clear a line between leisure and labor for an aristocrat. I've known some who work almost as hard as you do in their gardens, but their labor brings forth only ornamental flowers, not edible fruit. And there are others whose drawing-room conversations have acted to feed thousands. It's... an odd sort of place, now that I have come to view it a little critically. High Society values appearances so much, and yet is also so misleading in them." The more socially adept would have picked up on how she avoided mentioning her father in this regard. Not, apparently, a subject she was eager to talk about. At least, not to a mere acquaintance like Applejack. In time, if they became deeper friends, she may tell. "It's strange, I thought some of the other faculty would be wanting to meet me." The unicorn remarked, looking around.
  12. Feng was suitably pleased at hearing Yanhua's expression of gratitude; it seemed that his quick words were enough to smooth over a potentially awkward moment. It would have been most importune for the kitsune to have revealed her true nature to the Empress here, in front of the entire Imperial Court! Yue couldn't hope to keep the palace chef around after that, not if she wanted to be thought fit for the throne herself. It still left open the question of whether she would continue to retain her even with a private revelation, but Feng felt he could trust in her good nature and insightful eye. There wasn't a hostile bone in Hanabi/Yanhua's body, vulpine though her true skeleton might be. His thoughts on the matter left him oblivious both to Yanhua's rather visible display of affection accompanying her polite and measured words, and Empress Yue's subconscious reaction to it. The exchange would have been equal parts encouraging and worrying to him, as regards the possibility of his unrequited affections finally being requited. That aside, the ceremony continued with suitable decorum, Feng standing tall and proud, the medals on his chest holding gleams equal to the gold covering the court fixtures, though one could say that his own scaled shown even brighter. He'd taken great care of his appearance prior to his arrival, knowing that it would reflect upon the Empress. The Empress, it seemed, was returning the regard. Xiao Huo! To be compared to such a great historical figure, by the holder of the very title he co-founded, was nearly boon enough for Feng. It would no doubt prove a boost to his status among the court, though it would also make him a target of jealousy. Not to mention that the overall notoriety and attention would be... possibly detrimental to his career as a Watcher. To all these concerns, however, he gave not a care, for the praise of his Empress was enough. And yet... she was offering more. Stepping forward with all the gravitas he could muster, Feng found his thoughts rapidly spinning. What could he ask? What dared he ask? Yu Yue knew full well what desires lay upon his heart, and what would likely become of them both were they to be uttered in public. He knew that she trusted him to not put her in an untenable position, and for all the affection he bore her, his respect would triumph over his selfishness. And yet... Feng just wouldn't be Feng if he didn't push the envelope just a little. "Your Imperial Majesty," He began, pressing a forehoof to his chest and bowing low. "The land from which I have returned places a high value upon friendship, equivalent to how Long Guo views honor. I had always considered the greatest honor you had ever bestowed upon me to be able to call myself your servant to all who asked who I was. Only one possible honor higher than that exists, and that is being able to call myself your friend. If your humble servant may be so bold, that is my request." A bold request it certainly was; the Empress was, of course, free to have what friends she desired... in private. The two of them were already that, Feng knew for sure. But public acknowledgement was a different thing altogether. It was a coveted status, not without influence in the ever-shifting politics of the court. Not to mention, it would pretty much solidify the crosshairs between Feng's wings, earned from the earlier high compliment paid. On the other hoof, the public statement would make all future appearances of them together than much more normal, as well as provide a reasonable explanation for his disproportionate taking of Bodyguard assignments for the Empress, compared with his fellow Watchers.
  13. As Hanabi came in close, Feng returned the embrace, nuzzling the fuzzy fox's furry neck. It was a very furry hug, especially once the kitsune's tails entered the game. He was reminded of being wrapped in a soft rug, during one of his undercover missions to infiltrate a black market bazaar. Boy, had that smuggler been surprised at what rolled out of his carpet... "Well, it is good to see that you are alright then." Stepping back, she could see Feng's smile turn somewhat sheepish. "Also, sorry if we scared you. I just wasn't sure what was going on, and wanted to catch up." His air of friendly concern may well have been contagious, as Hanabi's next thought was not for herself, but for Tempest, last seen on a rooftop. She wasn't there now, which boded ill. Following her, Feng was relieved to find the broken-horned mare relatively unhurt, though she did not seem to be in the best of shapes mentally. "Sunset, can you tell me what happened?" The longma asked, looking between the two unicorns. "Oh, and I suppose I should introduce you. Hanabi, this is Sunset Shimmer and Tempest Shadow. We met at the pavilion. Sunset, Tempest, this is Hanabi, a talking fox that was my foalhood friend, and who is also known as Yanhua, the Imperial Chef. It's, um, a long story."
  14. Bluebelle could only stare at Applejack as she just rattled off her schedule as if it 'ain't no thang.' It was almost enough to make the Princess ashamed for ever having complained about being busy, but inwardly, she kept fast to the belief that such flat-out labor was just not sustainable, even for an earth pony. "I can only hope that level of exertion does not catch up to you sooner than you anticipate." She replied, diplomatically, as she magically lifted a forkful of salad into her mouth. "It would be terrible to suffer a breakdown while so many responsibilities were on your shoulders; I think that's part of what motivated Twilight to vacate the position I now hold. I had been about to say 'step down', but 'Ruler of all Equestria' is more a step up, wouldn't you say?" And she laughed in the truly elegant manner of a Princess. She passed over the remark about Twilight's planning; Bluebelle honestly didn't feel confident to contradict Twilight in the field of education, in which she was undoubtedly an expert. At the very least, the purple mare had been a student and teacher for much longer than Blue had spent in either position, with exemplary performance in both. It was honestly rather intimidating, though she was loath to admit such a thing right now. As she took the opportunity to enjoy her meal, her expert eye caught the ingredients Applejack was using in her own, and smiled. "Your mother had good taste. My own was similarly formative, though as far as I know she never stepped hoof in the kitchen. That wasn't her territory, nor mine, if it comes to that!"
  15. If there was ever any doubt, the sight of the fox at normal size dispelled it for Feng. This was Hanabi, his forest foalhood friend! He'd wondered, in later days, whether he had simply imagined her in a fit of loneliness, but training as a Watcher had made him pretty sharp in when his senses and memories ought to be trusted, and so he had to believe in talking foxes. But to see her, here, now, so far from his home village... "I remember playing, with you, in the forest." He approached her slowly now, the bravado and adrenaline of the chase draining out through his hooves. "I was never able to find you after I left; well, I mean, I never did go back to my home village, but I never saw anything like a talking a fox. I almost thought I made you up! But here you are..." He beamed, almost made as if to hug her, before curiousity struck him, and he tilted his head. "Were you... disguised as Yanhua, or were you always Yanhua?" Feng was quite unfamiliar with the concept of Yokai, and thus had no context for how all this was working. He was also totally unfamiliar with Tempest's trauma, or indeed the present effects of it on her, as his attention was wholly taken up by his reunion
  16. To hear praise and acknowledgement from the Empress' own lips was like the sweetest of Yanhua's steam buns to Feng; it could fill his entire body with the feeling of light and airy bliss for the better part of a week. And to be so able to share the moment with his good friend Yanhua? That was like two whole steam buns! He'd be on something like a sugar buzz for the forseeable future. That said, an Imperial Watcher grinning like the village troublemaker and vibrating like the wings of a bumblebee would have been... inappropriate in the presence of all the illustrious figures of the Dragon Court. As much of a loose cannon as his superiors thought him now, Feng devoted no small part of his considerable will and energy into binding himself into the disciplinary framework of the Watch. That raised the disturbing specter of what the longma would become if he felt that he no longer had anything to lose by letting himself go... But when or if that day would ever come, it certainly wasn't today. Thus, he took the welcome respite from Yue's attention as she congratulated her chef on her own gold medals to keep his face from splitting in half and his hooves from dancing in delight. By the time the two of them had agreed on a private meeting, he'd managed to straighten out to the point where he was merely smiling, rather than grinning outright. That said, he also caught all the implications of what that 'private conversation' was likely to consist of. The trip they'd taken to Equestria had revealed to Feng Yanhua's true identity, though thankfully not in a way to disturb their friendship! It was just that, well, she wasn't truly a qilin... Thus it was that he sucked in a breath at the sight and implications of the Fenghuang feather. Like most of the court, he found the beauty dazzling; he'd been fortunate himself to befriend one of these magnificent phoenixes by saving one from foreign poachers while on recovery. That had been a harrowing little incident, having to rely almost solely on a bluff to see the lot of them off. He shook off reminisces. This was a delicate situation, one which could turn disastrous if not handled well. He had to interject, but could not supersede Yanhua's decision in the matter. Public confession of her true identity might not be the best tactic here and now, but given how he'd found out about it back in Ponyville, it was unlikely to stay a secret forever. Best the Empress heard it from Yanhua herself rather than a foreign newspaper, or worse, an intelligence briefing... "Knowing Yanhua as well I have come to over my time at the Palace, and the opportunities I have had to observe her over the course of our journey to and from the west, I can absolutely vouch for her worth of character and service." He allowed himself to grin. "I will give my testimony officially if called for!" Though it seemed no more than a manifestation of his normal flippancy towards officiality, in truth it was a bit of theater deliberately engaged in. He wanted to communicate his true confidence in his friend, in a professional as well as personal capacity, without alerting the onlookers that anything was actually amiss with Yanhua, should she choose to remain silent now. They already thought him odd, best let them keep thinking that. Contrary to common misconception about the Watch, it wasn't about being inconspicuous, but simply keeping what didn't need to be known unknown.
  17. Well, this certainly wasn't going as planned. The sudden transformation of the fox they were pursuing into something of legendary size brought the trio up short. Or, at least, it brought Feng up short, staring at the vulpine enormity in front of him. Tempest seemed merely excited by the prospect, while Sunset seemed mainly peeved at Tempest's excitement. Hence, the two ended up being more distracted with each other than with Yanhua. At least at first, long enough for the longma to get a good look the kitsune. There was something... familiar about her. The little niggles that the back of his mind were sending him triggered something like a memory. *Really, could it be?* While their quarry was being distracted by Sunset's talk of friendship, Feng took to his wings, approaching the large fox with caution, right up until the little suspicion in his head solidified into a solid hunch. Yes, he was willing to bet on this one... Quick as a golden dash, the Watcher darted in to boop the enlarged muzzle before him. "Tag, you're it Hanabi!" He called out, face split by a grin.
  18. Ah, Applejack. The last time Bluebelle had seen this mare, they had kissed. That wasn't usually a portent of a conversation free from awkwardness, but since it was from a kissing booth rather than a date, the new chancellor held out some hope. She smiled, giving a welcoming beckon to the seat next to her. "Oh, Lady Applejack, hello. I suppose I shouldn't find it unusual that'd you'd be a teacher here, but I have to wonder where you found the time." Sparing a glance to her conversation partner's plate, she noted with an entire lack of surprise the surplus of the orange mare's signature fruit. Well, it wasn't as if the school forbade students or faculty to brown-bag it, but Bluebelle couldn't help but think that enlisting the services of her private cook during working hours was some form of cheating. "As for myself... well, it's really only been one day. I'll have a better answer for you later, I suppose. For now, I'm just trying to get a sense of everything here, while following Twilight's instructions. They were quite...detailed. You certainly can't accuse the mare of leaving any ambiguity in her writing."
  19. Some time later... It had been some time since Feng had stepped foot in the Imperial Palace; modern as the transportation was between Long Guo and Equestria, the journey would never be a quick one. Log enough, in any case, for the magnificent structure to loose the dull matte of familiarity to shine in all its splendor to new eyes! Or perhaps that was the effect of approaching the Dragon throne by way of the Audience chambers, which were designed to Impress, rather than the more utilitarian back corridors that the Imperial Watcher used in taking up his position of duty. The longma was taking this path due to returning successfully from a diplomatic mission. It was a little unusual to send one of the Empress' feared security forces on a diplomatic task, but the task itself had hardly been usual. Feng had been sent as a Long Guo representative to the Equestrian Iron Pony competition, meant to show strong cultural bonds between the two countries... as well as gain a little glory and renknown in the eyes of foreigners. As for how he did? Well, if he hadn't won, he certainly wouldn't be coming in through the front door. As it was, he couldn't help but want to make a little show of it all. Speaking of a show... the sight of the Dragon Throne and the Empress upon was truly striking, when viewed through the golden doorway into the inner Court. All the furnishings and decor were meant to overawe in a display of magnificence, and for a moment, they did, even for Feng, who had seen it many times before. But of course, what truly took his breath away, every time and always, was Yu Yue, the Empress, herself. Whether clothed in all the silks of royalty, or in the plainer garb reserved for non-public appearances, he never failed to find her beautiful and captivating. And she knew it, which might possibly have been a contributing factor as to why he was sent away, in addition to his athletic skills. His affections were known to her, but not, as of yet, reciprocated. True to all old sayings of absence and the heart, however, Feng had never once let her leave his mind. It was for her sake that he gave 110% of himself on the field of play, and it was because of her that he was able to approach now, bedecked in medals of gold. "Your Imperial Majesty!" He called out, bowing before her hooves to let the medals and laurels of victory to slip off, making an offering before her throne. "I return from the far lands of Equestria to report success of my mission! I have spread good words of our intentions and character, forged bonds across the seas, and have won glory for Long Guo, for I have taken the title of Iron Pony!" Looking up, he tried to gauge her reaction; it had been a faint but unshakeable hope of his that a good performance may yet open up the Empress' heart towards him...
  20. Another question! An easy one this time, from a student she actually recognized! Her own unique perspective on being a mare/stallion had been of help to Valen Orange in the past, and it was lovely seeing him here. "For the most part, no. However, for today, I have decided to cancel all labs and lectures in the period following lunch, to give everyone time to meet and get to know the new arrivals. This goes for the faculty as well." Bluebelle hadn't had time to properly introduce herself to her fellow faculty, and so this change was as much for her benefit as her new students! OOC- New thread announced for faculty! Interested students may also make/link a post to their own lunchtime.
  21. Vitamin-rich mix of leafy greens? Check. Generous helping of almonds? Check. Tasty drizzlings of seasoned rice vinegar and sesame oil? Check. Princess Bluebelle had to acknowledge the due diligence of her predecessor; Twilight had certainly ensured that her school would not run afoul of the cliched “school cafe” food. All students and faculty ate from the same menu, and quite a good menu it was too. Not extensive, but selective. Simple, nutritious, delicious, all from fresh ingredients, likely grown in this town where possible. *I could get used to these accomodations.* She thought to herself, which was a good thing, considering her commitment as the new Headmare. One thing still remained, though, and that was to get to know the other teachers at this school. Twilight she knew of old from Canterlot, though not so well until recent years. But Starlight Glimmer she only knew by hearsay, and Sunset Shimmer barely by reminisce. *I’m not too well acquainted with the other Elements of Harmony either, if it comes to that.* Well, no time like the present to make up for that! She’d given everyone an extra-long lunch break, students and staff alike, for the express purpose of them all getting to know each other, new arrivals especially. And as a new arrival herself, Bluebelle had a feeling that the other teachers would want to get to know her as well as she wanted to know them. And what better way to do that than over a meal?
  22. It wasn't at all Kōkina Kyūkei's intention to get involved. This was strictly recon, and if she was being perfectly honest with herself, bearing with the new revelations this fight was giving her would be burdensome enough without having to defend herself. It wasn't just that a new alicorn had to be registered; powerful heroes and villains were always popping up, and having to deal with so many Kaiju in her homeland had gotten her used to the idea of dealing with a power asymmetry, usually by means of technology. But this cyborg... the readings she was getting from Lightning unsettled the Neighponese mare to her core. Her country relied upon being the absolute best, up-to-date-and-beyond magitek leader in the world. But the gear of the interdimensional pegasus, if these readings were to be believed, put her home country to shame. And a very real danger, too; far from being able to hack the cyborg, Kōkina stood a very real chance of being hacked herself if she wasn't careful- "Frammenti del cielo si riuniscono per dispensare un'ira esaltata....!" All of a sudden, her readings went haywire, as lightning began to fill the air. Swearing under her breath, she flipped off the data-connection and spared a glance outward. Oh... dear. Probably best to retreat, she just did not have the tools capable of dealing with the angry alicorn. Ripping open an emergency packet, she deployed a nanotech update on the old ninja technique of the smoke bomb. Not only did it obscure normal vision, but diffused all magical attempts at detection and penetration... for about 30 seconds. Long enough for the mare to beat a hasty retreat, at least, dropping a few more behind her to cover her tail. *Well, this has at least been a... fruitful reconnaissance, if not a pleasant one.* She had a hard drive full of data to present to the shogun, a few new entries to make on the National Supers Database, and a whole bunch of tech to desperately reverse-engineer over many overcaffienated nights at the lab... <Exit, cameo over.>
  23. Almost there, almost there! Feng was close, close enough to call out to his friend as the chase ran inside the town. "Yanhua, wait, we just- HEY!" By all things the ancestors held holy, what was Tempest Shadow doing!? "Don't make this any longer than it has to be!" He yelled up to his fellow-pursuant on the roof. "This is no hunt! We're trying to help a friend here!" Be that as it may, calling up to Temmy had caused Feng to lose a few steps on his pace. Snorting, he clamped down his jaw to prevent any further talking from taking away energy, and put on another burst of speed. The trail was zooming past Sunset, who would have felt the breeze from the pursuing longma's wake. The streets were still empty, with pretty much all of the town's inhabitants still out in the Stands for the Iron Pony. This meant that Yanhua would feel free to run through the town; Feng could only hope that they caught up to her before she lost them by ducking into another alley...
  24. It was a usually, if unexpectedly, disturbing sensation to receive a pony's full attention. Not that Blueblood could exactly muster that to focus upon Anu; he doubted anyone could in the presence of a Sphinx. Nonetheless, he tried his best, blue eyes fixed intently upon the exiled prince, lidded as if defending themselves from blandishment, the rest of the face carefully neutral. It was a bit of a surprising shift from his earlier geniality, but this was not merely a personal conversation. The Prince was seriously evaluating intervention on the dog's behalf, though he had to say that Anu's story so far had a distinctly... bare bones and one-sided nature about it. He'd need to know the exact circumstances behind the objection. Perhaps it really was a bad decision to ally with that other clan. "Mmm, I have to wonder, if you had an ally in that other clan, Anu, why were they of no help to you in your time of need?" It seemed an obvious question to the experienced politician. A bit less noble and heroic than Hogo-sha might think admirable, but he couldn't help that. Not everypony, or every dog, could be the picture of perfect bushido. It was only then that Blue noticed that Niilavin had gotten up. Diverting his attention, he looked up just in time to see the big cat attempting to engage a passer-by in a riddle game. And given what legends said about ponies who lost a sphinx's challenge- "Oi! Bad kitty, no trying to eat my subjects!" He stopped short, realizing that he had said that in plain Equestrian, loud enough for everyone around to hear and understand. "Ah, yes, I do believe I ought to see about feeding you, though." He looked apologetically at his companions. "Sorry, but we're going to have to get up again, and take a quick detour to the fish market."
  25. I am home!

    1. Bellosh


      *provides a hero's welcome!*

    2. dragonofruin


      Welcome home!

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